CHAPTER 43: IN THE DARKNESS OF NIGHT

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‘Coffee?’ The man said handing a cup to a young man with long hair.

‘Thanks.’ The long haired man said.

‘So another new appearance?’ the man handing the coffee sit down on the ground under the large tree, exhaling his breath, looking at the moon.

Loki smiled. His face now was handsome young Caucasian man. Long blonde hair, smooth skin, rugged features, and blue eyes.

His face looks like a model in front of magazine cover, handsome and dashing with leather jacket on his lap, white stylish t shirt and a fit cut jeans.

The man then takes a sip and exhales his breath.

‘You make good coffee. If not for the circumstances, this would be relaxing.’

Azief smiles a bit. He always likes it when people praise his coffee making. He then looks at his cup and then smell the sweet aroma, smiles and take a sip slowly, enjoying every second of it.

Enjoy the little things he reminded himself.

Loki also looks at the shining moon and then releases a sigh. His mind is occupied with a lot of things.

Then he suddenly asks Azief to strike a conversation. To him, Azief is a mysterious person. Never revealing the full story and seem to always be in control.

‘You must feel very powerful don’t you?’ Loki asks Azief without even looking at Azief.

Azief knows that the question is directed at him but he also did not break his gaze at the moon.

He then asks.

‘What do you mean?’

‘Analyzing people with a glance. Knowing everything about a person in matter of seconds. A man of such singular mind like you….is formidable in itself.’

It was a compliment but also an assessment. Azief did not say anything and he took another sip.

‘Is that how you think of me?’

‘Was I wrong?’ Loki said. He too slowly takes a sip. Two men under the brightly light of moonlight, in a dark forest, both wanted to know about each other.

Both are assessing the other.

‘I am not a genius or something like that. I just observe you with more…determination. I could not analyze everyone like that nor do I have the capacity of mind to always deduce what others are thinking. I just find you at first, as a threat. So I need to determine your motive, you reason, anticipate your every move, know your behavior, plan every steps. If you are asking me whether I could do it to another, deduce their life the way I did you…I could. If…I bother to care. If I bother enough to observe. It is not some magical trick….I just observe more. Focus more.’

Loki smiles bitterly.

Then for a while there is just silence and the sound of two men sipping coffees and the occasional shrieks of Vampiric bat nearby, eaten by Badge.

Badge will evolve to Unique Rank not long from now. Azief could feel it. But for tomorrow operation, he has made his choice. Badge will not participate.

Then Loki asks again.

‘What is the matter between you and her?’ he asked as he pointed his finger at Sofia.

Sofia was lying under a terribly made tent but good enough to shield her from rain if rain ever comes and a comforter under her body so she would not feel too sore when she woke up.

‘She’s a friend.’ Azief curtly replies

‘Awfully close for a friend. You trusted her with your life. I didn’t observe you for nothing you know?’ Loki said probing deeper.

‘We made a promise’ he said.

‘A promise? That is a fragile thing in this new world. Promises, that is’ And he shrugged, looking at Azief with a hint of pity and sadness, thinking of something

‘Maybe, you like her? Perhaps, even love her? Your personality doesn’t indicate that you would so easily trust people.’ Loki teases.

Azief on the other hand smiles bitterly, looking at Sofia peaceful face and said while sighing regretfully.

‘Love…..is a game I fail to understand, and so I opt not to play.’ Loki looks at Azief and could sense something from him and Loki then look back at the moon.

‘That’s harsh’ Loki said shrugging.

‘I guess you are saying that from experience’ Loki inferred.

Azief did not care to respond and Loki didn’t want to push so they just sat there in silence.

‘But I still don’t understand. Why do you choose her as your companion? She is hardly stronger than you. She is more likely to be a burden than benefit. Since, you are very practical, letting her join you, it quite an illogical move.’

Loki ask

Azief did not say anything only reminisce the experiences he and Sofia face together. Sofia was nothing but an acquaintance in the beginning.

She is like Loki said. Burden.

But humans could not live alone. Else, they go crazy. Azief did not show it but after the death of Tan, he was alone.

Alone in a world full of darkly terrors. He didn’t show any of his fear because he couldn’t.

Because if he succumb to his emotions, he would stop. He would stop and he would die. He relentlessly pushes forward because that is the only path of survival.

So when he met Sofia, he takes her under his wings. Protect her and in a way, and he would never admit this if Sofia ask him, but Sofia acts as a balance.

The process of give and take between them.

Normal conversations that keep him sane and grounded. She was his counter balance. And when she lost her mother, Azief saw underneath those tears was a remarkable woman.

‘Because she was broken’ Azief replies to Loki question.

‘Because she is broken?’ Loki is puzzled by Azief answer

‘Kintsukuroi’ Azief said

‘To repair with gold. It is an art in Japan of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer’

‘So?’ Loki said, still puzzled.

‘It has a deeper meaning than just repairing pottery. You must understand that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. Some people, when they break, they couldn’t be put together again. Some heal even stronger. Sofia is the latter.’

And then saying this he took another sip and doesn’t say anything after that.

Sometimes the wind would blow and Azief black cape would flutter and for a moment Azief look like a very lonely person, under the moonlight.

Loki finally finished his cup of coffee. He looks at Azief and then he got up to go to his tent. Before he walks away he said.

‘That was good coffee’ he said. Azief smiles hearing the compliment.

‘Remember, tomorrow night’ Azief said reminding him about tomorrow.

‘I know’ Loki said as he went inside his tent, lay his body on the comforter and then sleep as Azief take the first round of lookout.

‘I finished my coffee’ he said. Putting his cup beside him, he just laid his back on the tree; the wind blowing his hair as his eyes is always focused on the forest.

He was vigilant, sitting there like a faithful guardian as the night keep getting darker.

‘Plan B’ he said as he plays out the scenario of tomorrow in his mind, making sure his preparation is perfect.

Tomorrow, he would fight the beast….and he will win. Burning with determination, he brought out something from his bag of holding and he smiles.

************************************************************************

They were hiding in the bushes. Their breathing was steady and calm. Azief look at the beast.

Its shadow is illuminated by the moonlight and its figure was menacing even in its most unguarded state.

Azief could hear Sofia gulping at a distance. His senses are wide awake. He wanted to feel calm so he closes his eyes, and slowly he takes his breath.

Just another EXP he chanted in his mind.

Opening his eyes, he calms down. It is mind relaxing technique. His eyes changed, like a predator ready to pounce.

His breath is steady, his eyes are focused and each movement is calculated.

Slowly he moves closer in the dark of night, each steps did not produce sound and darkness covered his attire, like an entity of darkness.

Behind him Sofia follows loyally.

For this fight Badge will not participate. Azief is trying to ascertain a few of his theories about EXP distribution and he is fairly confident of his new team.

It was dark at night.

Sofia looks at Azief and she nodded. They are ready. The Plan B that Azief mentions before is to defeat the monster at night.

He is eager to transform to his full power form. Then they can begin to investigate about the bodies on the field.

And he also has agreed with Loki proposition to share EXP.

After all Loki has a lot of information that Azief don’t know how Loki got a hold of it. Loki is one mysterious man, if he is a man.

He has so many disguise and even the face that Loki shows them now is not his true face and Azief didn’t force Loki to show his true face.

Azief also appreciate the irony that the man is called Loki.

The God of mischief and trickery. Is that foreshadowing? as he smirked at himself.

There is still some distance between them since they are cooperating under mutual benefit but Azief is confident that there is something special about Loki.

He seems to know everything about monsters and knowledge about the World Orb. Azief feels something off about him.

Azief looks at the designated area where Loki should be.

Around the barrier a few foreign object could be seen scattered around it, in an organized manner.

There is a bundle of cube which is covered with wax around the barrier.

Since Loki could be invisible and the monster would not react until Azief enter the barriers Loki had to do the heavy lifting.

What is the powder cube thing you ask? Explosive. Homemade explosive. Even now Sofia is still shocked to know that Azief could make explosive.

Azief uses potassium chlorate. It is an extremely volatile explosive compound and has been used in the past as the main explosive filler in grenades, land mines and mortar round by such countries as France and Germany.

World Orb system did not sold explosive until you unlocked level 40 and right now most of the weapons sold in the Shop is mostly snipers, guns and cold weapons.

For guns it was normal guns unless you have classes like Snipers or Marksman.

If you have these classes than you can buy weapon such as snipers or guns that have the runic markings of the World Orb system.

Classes determine the things you could buy. Level also determine the things you could buy. All of this information is from Loki.

How he got it is a mystery.

Even though normal guns would work to deter level 1 to 20 when you reach level 30, normal guns don’t work anymore.

To be more accurate normal guns would be slightly ineffective.

Take for example him. Even if he is shot by a gun, his body would probably have a slight bruise like he is wearing body armour.

And not to mention his speed. He is not The Flash( DC reference) but to people of lower level he might as well be.

He might not be able to run around the world in matter of minutes but to perform what would be called instantaneous movement like Goku( Akira Toriyama) in DBZ, is not that hard.

At least it would appear that way for his enemies. He then look at the barrier again and hear the beast growling again.

If only he could buy explosive from the shop he will bought as many as he can. Insurance for days ahead.

Things like explosive are marked unavailable in the Shop.

Azief could buy the potassium chlorate by itself but he did not want to waste money so he extracted potassium chlorate from bleach.

It also had to do with his life skills. He check his status before and seven of his life skill has rank up to apprentice level.

Apprentice Cooking, Apprentice Speed Reading, Apprentice Coffee Making, Apprentice Poison Maker, Apprentice Persuasion, Apprentice Tent Building, and Apprentice Tracking.

Cooking rank up because he is the one who always cooks when they eat….every time. Tent building is also because he is the one who always set up the tent when they were about to sleep.

Thinking about it Sofia is really lazy when it was about building thing. She only does the dishes.

Speed reading rank up because he’s been reading when he can’t sleep.

Persuasion rank up when he convinces Loki to join. Tracking ranks up when he discover Loki tracks and deduce correctly about the people in the forest following him.

Poison maker is probably related to the Golden Dart poison. When he did not sleep, reading is not the only thing he did.

He also experiment with the Golden Dart poison. Azief has always had a fascination with poisons.

Coffee making on the other hand, and he smiles when he thought about it, is his hobby. He wanted to be a barista once.

Silly come to think of it. But he always likes the smell of coffee.

He shakes his head and focused back his head on the target. When he is nervous, he always wandered off.

People might think that such thought process would be distracting but Azief recognizes it as his brain trying to divert his attention to something mundane so that he could cope with the fear or nervousness.

He is thankful even grateful sometimes. Then he remember back when he built the explosive.

All he needed was a heat source, a battery hydrometer, a large Pyrex and potassium chloride and voila!

He made an explosive but with a slight modification.

This bomb will be activated by Loki when the monster rushes out. Kind of like a landmine.

Of course such explosion would not bring the monster down since the monster would be as strong as him but the damage is only one of the effect he desires.

The true plan was the chaos. They are a trio…not an army. So, he devise a plan suitable for three people.

With dust maybe he could obstruct the beast vision.

Then the sound could also interfere with the beast senses. If not that, the terrain will also be ruined which could make great shelters from the beast corrosive spits.

The trees would provide great covers from the monster claw.

And Azief did not use two or three explosive, he is using about 4 dozens bombs, ready to explode.

Then a whisper is heard on his left ear. It was Sofia.

‘You sure about this?’

‘No’ Azief replies saying in whispery tone.

‘But I got to risk it. I don’t want the people inside the fort to join us. Night is the perfect cover’

‘If they join us, it would be easier wouldn’t it?’ She said. Azief nodded and smiles bitterly

‘True, but our EXP will be divided equally. That is such a lost. At least with my tactics only three of us would reap the benefits. The risk is high but the payout is also high. Don’t you want to break that level 30 barrier? Killing a monster that is almost equal to my level would do it. You know the plan.

Sofia nodded.

Loki just needs one strike to make sure he is registered as one of the member of the party and then he can freely detonate the bomb.

Sofia will be Azief long range attacker. Attacking from a distance with her arrows, targeting vital organs.

Eyes, groins, stomach any blind spot any weak spot that she sees will be targeted by her. And Azief will act as the main attacker.

The sound of the beast growling in its sleep was like the sound of train track being derailed it was unpleasant.

The night wind sometimes blow but it does not provide any coolness son night like this.

Azief knows he needs to make the first move.

He turns back and said to Sofia

‘Move into position. I’m going to go.‘

Sofia nodded and she moved backwards taking her position. She jump and is standing on top of one of the branch of the large trees.

Her eyes could still see even at this night and considering that the moon light is pretty bright tonight it could be considered luck.

She takes a deep breath, exhaling her breath and then slowly she takes her bow, slowly she pointed the bow towards the area of the beast and then her demeanor changed as her eyes become determined.

In front of her eyes is only the target.

It was like everything falls away and the only thing that existed is her and her target. Her eyes focused like never before and her hand itches to release one arrow.

(Just as a reminder. Her arrows is replenished from loots and there are some of her skill that create energy arrow)

But she waited, like a patient wolf. Waiting for the tiger to pounce and then she could attack.

Azief slowly approaches the barrier and the he nodded at an empty field like he could see someone there. Then a rustle of wind could be heard.

Azief knows that Loki is on position. Like a shadow in darkness, Azief move closer and closer until stealthily he enters the barrier and suddenly a notification appear in front of Azief eyes.

CLASS TRIAL ACTIVATED.

ANALYZING USER

LEVEL 39

TRIAL BEAST WILL BE MODIFIED.

Suddenly the beast open its black eyes and looks straight at Azief, its breath is pungent and suddenly bone cracked from the monster as it grows bigger.

It’s terrifying teeth become bigger and sharper and its already menacing figure become bigger and it body structure also equally get bigger.

Its tail become longer and its elongated head become more elongated.

Then another notification appears.

THE MONSTER HAS BEEN MODIFIED. A UNIQUE RANK MONSTER. EQUAL TO A LEVEL 40 USER. GOOD LUCK.

Fuck Azief inwardly curses.

Why can’t he battle normal monster? He knows that the monster would adjust to his level but still…this is not what he expected.

He knows the division of power between monsters.

Ordinary rank monster is equal to level 1-20. Extraordinary rank is equal to level 20-39 And Unique? They are equal to level 40-50 users

The Imperator by Azief most basic guesses equals to level 49 or maybe at the peak of level 45.

And its demise is not really Azief achievement alone but took about hundreds of crocs to bring that monster down.

Now even though he knows the unique monster in front of him is only equal to level 40 it doesn’t make him feel any more comfortable.

Equal to level 40 means it’s one level higher.

But since he has the guts to poke the hornet nest, Azief has also prepared in the end, he could only rely on his abilities and his partner.

The beast looks menacingly at Azief standing high like a mountain. The height of the monster is 12 feet so Azief had to look up.

But he did not tremble. He slowly unsheathes his sword, smiles and said

‘Bring it on!’ Saying this, the barrier broke and he rushed forward as the battle began.

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